How to avoid sickness while travelling this summer

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No one wants to fall ill while travelling. From over-the-counter remedies to emergency solutions, here’s everything you need to know before jetting off this summer.

Whether you’re setting off on a week-long summer getaway or are preparing for months of traipsing across the globe, unexpected sickness can be difficult to overcome, particularly if you’re travelling alone. So, we spoke to a trio of experts to find out how to prepare for every sickly circumstance.

Top trips for avoiding sickness while travelling

What to do before you go travelling

First things first, Summer Villas travel expert Michele Massa points to a medical kit as an essential first port of call.

“Packing a small medical kit with basics like pain relievers, antihistamines and diarrhoea medication can really help if you encounter a bug,” he explains. “It’s also wise to consider packing a basic thermometer and any prescriptions you rely on regularly.”

Issues like stomach bugs are pretty common when venturing to a new country — particularly if you’re sampling different cuisine and water that your body isn’t used to — and this is something that effects thousands of holidaymakers every year. In these cases, over-the-counter remedies will usually suffice, but it’s a good idea to locate your nearest pharmacy just in case symptoms persist.

If you’re sticking around in a specific region or country for a while, Dr Johannes Uys from Broadgate General Practice advises travellers to familiarise themselves with the local healthcare system beforehand.

“It’s also beneficial to research key phrases in the local language to communicate symptoms and have a list of personal medical information and emergency contacts on hand.”

How to prevent heat stroke

It seems obvious, but a lot of travellers forgo water when embarking on a physical activity like a walk, bike ride or even sunbathing while abroad. A refillable bottle to stay hydrated is essential, and any frequent visitors of Mediterranean countries during peak summer months are well aware of just how humid the air can get.

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Visiting hot countries during the peak summer months puts you at risk of heat exhaustion

“Carrying a few packets of electrolyte powder with you can also help to replenish lost minerals if you’re battling dehydration,” says Michele.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include confusion, slurred speech, sickness and headaches — among others. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the signs before setting off to a hot destination, and Dr Johannes emphasises the importance of staying cool.

“Stay in the shade where possible, drink water regularly and apply sunscreen at various points throughout the day,” he says.

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It’s important to be prepared for any situation before travelling alone

What to do if you suffer from serious injury

Travelling is an incredible experience, but one that doesn’t come without serious risks.

Co-founder of Travel City, Lee Dobson, says: “Don’t hesitate to go directly to the nearest hospital or call emergency services if you get injured. Your travel insurance can assist with costs later.”

It’s also important to inform your insurance provider as soon as possible about your situation to get guidance on covered procedures.

“Keep detailed records of any and all medical visits, treatments and costs,” says Lee. “Get receipts and doctor’s notes for insurance claims and ensure that you understand the treatment provided and any necessary follow-up care or medications.”

If your condition doesn’t improve or worsens, it may be time to consider returning home. Treatment where you’re more comfortable can provide a lot more reassurance and less stress for you and your family.

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Woman in hospital

Other travel tips

“Don’t forget to pack a few comfort items like a lightweight scarf or an eye mask — these little things can make a big difference when you’re feeling unwell,” says Michele.

Dr Johannes adds that basic self-care measures like eating lightly and resting can aid recovery in many circumstances.

Across the board, ensuring that you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers an array of medical expenses is essential. Even if you’re only travelling for a short period, sickness or injury can strike at any time, and feeling secure that you’ll be taken care of in any circumstance is the best kind of self-care.

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